Friday, May 27, 2016

Busy Every Day Last Week

So finally had a busy week of planting at the NCRS, working hard to get caught up.  Planters and sprayers were all over the place.  Like below on Tuesday planting soybeans on Farm 11.  The way it works is that all of the needed fertilizer is brought out to the field on a wagon, referred to as the "War Wagon".  Then the crew prepares the treatment mix by pumping the ingredients into a mix tank.  Then Tim plants the replicated plots while the crew prepares the next treatment.  Round and round until all the plots are planted.  Pack up and move to the next test.
 Summer interns Trevor and Lacie load the planter with the fertilizer for the next treatment.  Hey, what is on that hat that Trevor has on?  Why it's our favorite mascot Pistol Pete!  Well of course, Trevor is a student scholar from Oklahoma State University spending his summer at the NCRS.  He is the son of Tim and Paige Tyree of Retail Partner Tyree Ag in Kansas.  And Tim and Paige are also OSU graduates.  So it's great to have Cowboys outnumber Sooner Galynn when he stops by.  Lacie there is an ag major and going to be a sophomore at MSU.  She is from a farming family near Ithaca,  MI, and they have used some AgroLiquid in the past. So it is our mission to get them converted all the way over.
There is a lot of preparation for the AgroExpo in August.  It is on Farm 12. Agronomist John Leif is responsible for seed and chemical plots.  Here is a crew helping plant some of the last AgroExpo corn and soybean variety plots.  It is time consuming as after each plot, the seed from all six planter boxes must be emptied and the next kind put in.  I helped by staying out of the way and taking pictures. And in the background you can see what looks like our tour trailers.  Well that is Jay showing the farm to a group of school kids on a field trip.  Doesn't hurt to introduce kids to farming and food production. We have had a number of tours this spring and more to come.
I actually had responsibility for establishment of the Yield Challenge plots where different agronomists made corn and soybean fertilizer recommendations that will be tested for the AgroExpo. The corn plots were planted earlier, and Wednesday we planted the soybean plots. There's Lacie pouring out some fertilizer for application.  And she is sharing the War Wagon with John and second year intern Quinton, who are using a backpack sprayer for application of different herbicides for evaluation, also for the AgroExpo.
Here is Tim planting one of the soybean Yield Challenge plots.  It will be really interesting to see how the different program recommendations work out.  So plan on visiting the AgroExpo in mid-August to see this and so much more.  If you don't come, it will be something you will regret for the rest of your life.  More info at www.theAgroExpo.com.
 Also coming by for a fertilizer fill-up are Stephanie and Trevor.  They are making broadcast fertilizer applications to select plots around the NCRS.  Tim makes his way back to the tractor for the next soybean plot.  We could have used a traffic light with all of the people coming and going.
Here is Trevor driving the Hagie making an application of nitrogen on a long corn plot on Farm 11. This was his first time driving this complicated sprayer configured for plot application.  But being a Cowboy, he was driving like a pro in no-time.  In case you are wondering, Stephanie rides in there too with the treatment list making sure everything goes where it should.  Mistake free, guaranteed.
 Today Galynn and I visited the NCRS to take a look at some of the plots now that the corn is emerged.  Here he is taking a stand count on one of the corn Challenge Plots.  He did pretty good up till around 33, when he had to stop and re-think what comes next.  But I always enjoy getting an early look at plots, even with Galynn as lively discussion always ensues.
So hard to keep up with all the activity, but this is what it takes to make the NCRS the finest crop fertility research facility anywhere.  So in all the frenzy, I lost track of the Horticulture Crew.  I know they were busy with a variety of tasks, and I will check in with them next week. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Seeking Sun in Southern IL

So on the way back to Michigan I stopped in Southern Illinois to see a new Retail Partner, Southern Illinois Ag Source in Cobden, IL.  Actually this was a week ago today.  I had a blog post on a visit there last October 26.  Like much of the country, they have had excess rainfall that has delayed planting.  Or even had to use the dreaded "R" word: "Replant."  The above picture is a common sight where it has been too wet to work or plant.  After a while people thought I was bring the rain from Michigan.  I have many powers, but weather control is not one of them.

The picture below is of rice as I drove across from Missouri.  Although rice is flooded, it does need a period of no rain to get started.  We have worked with rice growers in Arkansas, but this is for the future.
Southern IL Ag Source has put together a plot planter to establish some test plots.  Here is a plot of Pro-Germinator + Sure-K + Micro 500 + Manganese, according to soil test.  There are 10 plots that received either High NRG-N or the dreaded Anhydrous Ammonia.  So it will be a good comparison.
Here is Retail Partner Josh Lofton and SAM Rick Knifley at the plots launching Josh's drone to get an overhead view of the plots.  Josh is an expert pilot as he had the drone going all over.
Here it is over the plots.  He actually had it flying at corn level for some cool images.
Here is a pic from the drone looking at the plots.  The dots in the lower left corner are Josh, Rick and me.  It was a valuable tool.  I want one.
We visited some customer fields, but one visit was interesting.  We preach that you should not use aluminum tanks for fertilizer storage that has phosphorus.  Well here is why.  This is a peek inside a tank that had Pro-Germinator + Sure-K.  See all the crud in the bottom.  Well that is a result of the phosphorus reacting with the aluminium.  So don't do that! (I suggest that cell phones should have a wrist strap.  I was so afraid of dropping my phone down into that mess.)
So this would be a problem to pump through a planter.  Although I think it altered my fingerprint.  
So that was an enjoyable stop.  Thanks for the great time Josh and Rick.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Corn All Over in OK


 So on Tuesday of last week I was over a ways East of Oklahoma City, again mostly looking at corn planted with Pro-Germinator + Kalibrate + Micro 500.  As the picture shows, the corn looked as good, or better, than that from any of the traditional corn states.  Growing up in Oklahoma there was hardly any corn planted back in the day, but now it is a major crop throughout.  

These particular fields are of heavy clay soils with a CEC in the 30's to 40's.  But the Calcium-Magnesiun-Potassium base saturations are in the desirable ranges.  The Pro-Germinator is good for promoting good root development in the heavy soil.  You could see some water standing in fields, but the corn is holding on to its good color.  Like the previous day up North, it needs heat and sun.  We were wearing jackets which is very unusual for May in Oklahoma.  In fact, if this was a regular weather pattern, tile drainage would be advised particularly in these heavy soils.  But such rain patterns are unusual here.  I remember a college intern we had at the NCRS several years ago from the OK Panhandle who went to college at West Texas State.  He just could not believe that we use tile drainage to remove water from our soils, when they are so desperate to get water into their soils down there..

 Another champion field.
So I'm sure many of you are wondering about former Sales Account Manager Jacob who retired a couple years ago to farm full time.  Well I sent over to his place and we walked fields like we did so many times in the past.  Still using AgroLiquid of course, and it shows.  He is like many farmers with some family ground, some of his own, and some rented.  Here is some corn on rented ground.  By the way, the land owner also has grapes and a winery that is for sale there. So all oenophiles take note.  Plus you would have a great tenant farmer.
Here is a field of corn just South of the Grand Casino there.  But we had wheat research plots here years ago that showed yield benefits of adding ferti-Rain and N Response to wheat fungicides.  Those were the days.  But still had a great lunch at nearby Abulita Rosa's.  Worth the stop.
So that was an enjoyable day.  But even though it is great to be back in OK, it was time to head back to Michigan.  But another stop was made on the way.  Tune in next time to see what that was.  Worth the stop.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Wet in the Sooner State (Did I just use the "S" word?)

So you can tell from the earlier post that I was down in Oklahoma last week.  Always good to visit my home state, and it helps that many of the good people use AgroLiquid.  I actually drove since I had numerous stops, one being to see Retail Partner Todd Woods up in Perry last Monday.  It rained the night before and off and on during the day.  So the slick clay road to his house was a challenge. Even for the mighty Flex.  I was sliding all over the road to his place, but fortunately did not have to make the call of shame for a tractor.  

We jumped in his truck and drove all over North Central Oklahoma.  Here we are at a wheat field near Tonkawa (I think) where Todd set up a farmer trial with a test product additive (hint: atomic weight of 12) to a drill application of Pro-Germinator + Micro 500.  Glad I brought rubber boots, but they didn't go up to my...pockets.  So it was wet.
Well we didn't see any visual differences, so will rely on the combine.  It was a good looking field of wheat.  (The color made me think of verjus, one of my favorite culinary additives.) 
 The rain was welcome.  There had been several showers of late, and just in time as the plants are trying to fill the grain in the heads.  But here is a reminder of how dry it was earlier.  
 We were near Ponca City when we drove by a farm with these tanks that Todd said were obtained through the AgroLiquid tank program. What a deal.  Hopefully Sales Manager Galynn will empty his pockets and come up with another program like this in the fall.
Back at Todd's farm is some of his corn well fed with Pro-Germinator and High NRG-N.  It is about the tallest corn I had seen the whole trip.  This area can turn dry in summer, so hopefully it is saving some of the rain for later.
Todd also does custom application with his new Hagie sprayer.  He did his homework before going with Hagie, including calls to Tim at the NCRS.  We like the up-front Hagie design that we use there. Todd likes it too.  Just won't be spraying anytime soon.  And similarly, the Hagie also reminds me of verjus.  Mmm good!
We saw more wet stuff and it was a fun day.  This is a little later than my usual visit in early April, so it was fun to see crops a little further along.  (And yes, I did say fun.  Twice!)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Real Education at the NCRS

So while I was out on my fertilizer mission this past week, it finally dried out enough to get back to planting at the NCRS.  It was also the start of college internships.  There are six interns toiling at the NCRS this summer working in field crops and horticultural crops.  I met them briefly, but of course can't remember all of them.  But I do know that they are from the top two agricultural colleges in the world.  Will have an update at some point in the future.  But Stephanie sent me these couple pics of them working in one of the corn experiments.  I see that before they can use the mix tank and pump loading, they must start by filling buckets and pouring them in the planter tank.  I mean, that's how I started, and look at me now!  Well maybe not.
Check, re-check, and re-re-check that the tank lid is secure.
On a serious note, for once, I think that it's great that these college students get an opportunity to experience what an agri-business goes through for product support and discovery.  I still remember what my Ph.D. advisor at MSU said, that being Dr. Bill Meggitt: "Don't let school get in the way of your education."  Books and class are great, but experience is the best teacher.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

OK Wheat Plots (or Great Looking Wheat Plots in Oklahoma)

So part of my Fertilizer Mission was to stop by one of our research plots in Oklahoma.  This is a ways West of Oklahoma City. We are evaluating different N sources for topdress.  I always think it's cool to see what happens with no N, particularly on a grass crop like wheat.  So here is a plot border with no N next to a plot with 10 gallons per acre of High NRG-N. It looked as bad there as it does here.

Retail Partner Parker Christian on the right and researcher Roger Musick take a close look at the plots.
 Roger likes what he sees.  So do we.
 As said, this is a topdress experiment.  In this part of dry OK, usually only 50 lb/A of N is applied. Treatments include a base of 10 gal/A of High NRG-N, with experimental additives including chloride (!) and carbon, a faster acting N, Micro 500, accesS, compared to 28% with and without eNhance.  So hopefully we will learn about N options.  I will say that this is the best looking wheat at this stae that I have ever seen here.  It was planted late due to rain, topdressed late due to rain, and then was in semi-drought, but has had good moisture recently and looks good.  The grain is in the milk stage. 
So that was encouraging.  More fertilizer mission to follow.

Rain-Free Monday Last Week. Only Day With No Rain.

 So Monday it had dried out enough to start planting again.  Above we see Tim and Quinten getting the planter ready on Farm 3.  Below Stephanie prepares the next treatment to be loaded into the planter.
On Farm 2 next to the NCRS office, Jacob makes beds for vegetable transplants.  The next day they would hold some celery and ready for more.
 In the distance on Farm 7, Jeff plants some corn.
Well I had to get into the action, like in the old days.  Quentin and I mixed fertilizer treatments for Tim to plant on Farm 12.  These weren't just any plots, but they are the AgroExpo Corn Challenge plots.  The treatments were made by different agronomists, including Brian and Darren Hefty.  These plots are a key part of the AgroExpo in August.  Want to see more, then be there.
A little work on Tuesday morning, then the rain started.  It prevented planting the rest of the week.  In the first few days of May there had been over three inches of rain.  Properly spaced, cold and cloudy to keep it wet.  But forecast drier next week.